$1,550,000 – Popvich v. Amtrak

On August 1, 1988, Pete Popovich was fatally electrocuted at the contractors’ job yard for the Schuylkill reconstruction project when a boom truck contacted overhead uninsulated wires. At the time of his death, Popovich was almost 35 years old. He left as his survivors, his wife Linda, and his son Nicholas, then age 18 months.

At the time of his death, Popovich was employed by lA / Buckley, a Joint Venture. Suite was instituted against IA Construction Company, Individually, Buckley & Company, Inc., Individually, Amtrak, PECO, Gaudet O’Brien/Urban Engineers, Joint Venture, and Urban Engineers, Inc., Individually.

Plaintiff claimed that IA Construction Company, Inc. had executed a lease with Amtrak individually which required exhaustive and detailed measures necessary to prevent crane power line contact. These included but were not limited to, Amtrak Safety training for all workers at the job site; grounding of cranes operating within a boom’s length of the power lines; and the submission of plans and a detailed description of the method or procedure of the work to be performed in the leased area. Plaintiff contended that IA failed to provide a copy of these rules and regulations to the supervisors who were actually controlling the job yard and that Amtrak utterly failed to enforce and implement these safety recommendations.

Plaintiff also maintained that Amtrak was liable since they owned and maintained the power lines involved in the accident. Thus, plaintiff maintained that Amtrak was the utility company and that it failed to exercise the highest degree of care when it knew or should have known of the presence of uninsulated high voltage power lines directly above and adjacent to the contractors’ job yard which included storage and material handling by crane, boom truck and other high reach construction equipment.

The crane operator was paid by Buckley & Company, Inc., individually. Plaintiff maintained that the crone operator had violated OSHA and ANSI regulations, the warnings on the crane, and standard industry practice by contacting the power line with the crone. Defendants, lA, Individually, and Buckley, Individually, filed a Motion for Summary judgment alleging that they were immune from liability as joint venturers pursuant to the workmen’s compensation statute. Plaintiff won this fiercely contested Motion.

Plaintiff maintained that Gaudet O’Brien/Urban Engineers Joint Venture was the construction management consultant for the project. Plaintiff maintained that they were required to review design documents regarding the storage areas, conduct field views as may be required. Plaintiff also maintained that they had the responsibility to ensure that the project’s execution was performed in accordance with contract requirements. Plaintiff maintained that the contract requirements included safety provisions that the defendant failed to satisfy.

Urban Engineers, Inc. provided construction inspection services for the Schuylkill reconstruction project. The contract required that they provide assistance in complying with the safety and accident prevention provisions of the contract. Plaintiff maintained that defendant failed to satisfy this requirement because defendant knew or should have known of the storage of materials directly beneath uninsulated high voltage power lines and the presence of high profile construction equipment in the job yard near overhead power lines.

Damages: Plaintiff was nearly 35 years old at the time of the accident. He had earned approximately $30,000.00 per year in the five years before the accident. Plaintiff’s economist projected a loss of earnings ranging from a low of $739,126.00 to a high of $1,713,394.00.

Result: The case settled for $1, 550,000.00 cash, a confidential amount from a confidential defendant, plus the waiver of the entire workmen’s compensation lien of $116,109.00

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